Intended for healthcare professionals


Burnout among doctors

BMJ 2017; 358 doi: (Published 14 July 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;358:j3360
  1. Jane B Lemaire, clinical professor1,
  2. Jean E Wallace, professor2
  1. 1Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada
  2. 2Department of Sociology, Faculty of Arts, University of Calgary
  1. Correspondence to: J B Lemaire lemaire{at}

A system level problem requiring a system level response

Although doctors have a professional responsibility to be at their best,1 the wider profession and healthcare organisations urgently need to assume a greater responsibility for burnout. Burnout is a work related hazard that is prevalent among those working in people oriented professions such as healthcare.2 3 Care providers commonly develop intense interpersonal relationships with those they care for, often prioritising others’ needs over their own. While helping and caring for others can be extremely fulfilling, it can also drain your emotional reserves. Over time, this may result in burnout, which is indicated by feelings of overwhelming exhaustion, depersonalisation or cynicism towards people and work, and a sense of professional inefficacy.2 3

Burnout is generally high among doctors globally, although the exact rates vary by country, medical specialty, practice setting, gender, and career stage.3 4 5 6 7 Estimates also vary depending on which dimension of burnout is being considered …

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